Merchant couple in £4m tax fraud fail to reduce prison terms

Published:  13 October, 2010

BELFAST: A couple that carried out Northern Ireland's biggest tax fraud while running their builders' merchant business failed to have their jail terms reduced.

The Court of Appeal dismissed challenges by Patrick Gerard Small and his wife Mary Elizabeth Small over prison sentences imposed for operating a £4.5m fraud over a 17-year period.

In February, Small was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years and his wife for two-and-a-half years. They were also ordered to pay a combined total of nearly £4m by way of compensation.

The couple, from Cullenramer Road, Dungannon, siphoned off cash and cheques from their builders' merchant business and hid it in offshore bank accounts.

The Smalls, who at one stage alleged their annual earnings amounted to less than £30 000 and claimed family tax credits to get by, used their gains to build 20 new homes, including their own 12 000sq ft mansion.

Revenue officials who raided their home found nearly £500 000 in cash stuffed into a safe.

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